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'Redland Raised' promotion kicked off at Publix

by Christina DiMartino | November 04, 2009

A new brand promotion for Florida-raised produce was kicked off Oct. 29 at a Publix supermarket in the Tropicaire Shopping Center in Miami.

The "Redland Raised" promotion is a new initiative that joins the forces of Miami-Dade County, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners, the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, Publix Super Markets and several south Florida producers.

Products will carry "Redland Raised" branding in an effort to promote the consumption of fresh, local produce in Florida. The new brand is a collaboration project with the "Fresh From Florida" brand, the state's widely recognized promotion for its agricultural products. Publix Super Markets will promote the brand in more than 1,000 of its locations.

Produce companies whose products were represented at the launch were J&C Tropicals in Miami, Brooks Tropicals in Homestead and Five Brothers Produce Corp., in Florida City.

Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, was present at the "Redland Raised" announcement to represent the company, and as a Floridian, she understands why the name "Redland Raised" was chosen as the new brand.

"There is a lot of farmland in an area in south Florida that, in my memory, has always been referred to as the Redlands," said Ms. Ostlund. "It is an appropriate name in the respect that it signifies this large and strong farming area."

She added, "It's a great program. Several growers were announced as being participants in the initiative and our products were represented. The program will help make people aware of the produce grown in their areas. Local consumers, for example, may not know that right next to the Hass avocado is a Florida green-skinned avocado that was grown just several miles away. Although fresh produce is always great, it's never better than when it's fresh off the farm."

Jessie Capote, vice president of operations for J&C Tropicals, recognized Miami-Dade County and Publix for their efforts in promoting the new brand and spoke at the event about the importance of supporting locally grown produce. He also affirmed that the event was well represented by the growing community, Publix management, government agencies and significant local media including live coverage by local television networks, such as Channel 51 Telemundo, a Hispanic news station, the Miami Herald and the Miami Green Commission.

"I had a chance to speak with many different members of the media following the event," said Mr. Capote. "It seems that consumers are not aware of the many different choices they have for locally grown fresh produce. They also may not be aware of the historical significance that farming has played in the development of south Florida. Overall, I was very pleased with the media exposure the event provided for the south Florida growing community and for J&C."

Fred Moore, sales manager of Five Brothers Produce Inc., said that the company was contacted by Publix about three months ago, giving it ample time to prepare for the program.

"Miami-Dad County contacted Publix initially, and the company agreed to be involved in the project," said Mr. Moore. "They, in turn, asked if we would be able to participate, and we accepted the invitation. We supply Publix with green beans, yellow squash, zucchini and some other products. The project was coordinated through the Miami-Dade County office."

The first shipments of "Redland Raised" branded products from Five Brothers Produce were delivered to Publix Oct. 28. Mr. Moore said that Publix plans to push the project hard during Thanksgiving.

"The initial movement of branded product will be through Publix's Lakeland and Deerfield Beach distribution centers, then as produce comes on farther north, they will incorporate it into their other centers," said Mr. Moore. "We are looking forward to great success with the brand. Our product is excellent this year, and everything is in place for high-quality, locally grown produce and good pricing."

Five Brothers Produce is a major winter supplier of fresh produce throughout the United States.

Terence McElroy, press secretary for the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services in Tallahassee, FL, said that while retailers and growers frequently cut their own deals, the "Redland Raised" brand is a part of a bigger effort.

"Publix Super Markets plans to include the brand in all of its stores, and even incorporate cooking demonstrations as a part of the brand promotion," said Mr. McElroy. "In February 2010, Publix plans a major promotion of Florida products with cooking demonstrations, brochures and other point-of-sale materials. As we enter into spring, when Florida-grown produce is at its peak, the company will increase its promotional efforts with 'Redland Raised' products."